Chat with Brett Okamoto
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com mixed martial arts writer Brett Okamoto stops by to chat about the news from the octagon.
Okamoto joined ESPN.com in December 2010. Previously, he was the boxing/MMA writer for the Las Vegas Sun newspaper and has also worked with Sports Illustrated magazine and CNN.com.
Send your questions now and join Okamoto Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Brett Okamoto (1:01 PM)
So ... how about that Nuggets putback with 2.1 left on the clock to ruin the Lakers -4.5 last night? Oh ... still thinking about that one this morning. A good Wednesday MMA chat should lift my spirits. I'm also covering Mayweather/Cotto all week for the ESPN boxing page, so if you guys want to throw in a little on that, have at it.
Decammy (Los Angeles, Ca)
Sup Brett, Did you catch the all female InvictaFC heard it did good and Marloes Coenen called out Ronda Rousey. There's no way Dana will let his biggest female marketable star go. When SF eventually fold I believe that Ronda will be the first female to fight on a UFC card whether it's on free tv like Fox or ppv what do you think? After all Dana said you can do a big female fight once in a while.
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
I didn't see the card but did hear it was solid. Not sure what to tell you about women in the UFC eventually. Lorenzo Fertitta (co-owner) has had good things to say about it and Dana has definitely appeared more open to it recently than he has in the past. I still think there's just not enough talent available to feature it in the largest MMA promotion in the world, and just personal opinion, I don't see it in the UFC within the next two-three-even five years. But sometimes things progress quicker than you think, so I could be wrong on that.
tempe,Arizona [via mobile]
As it gets closer and closer siva/sonenII who do you think will come out victorys?
Brett Okamoto (1:04 PM)
I think Anderson will win but I don't think he'll dominate from bell to bell. Chael will have his moments because he's the only fighter to ever consistently get inside on Anderson. He's not afraid of him, he cuts off his angles and he's strong with his takedowns. But in the end, I think it will be Anderson's fight.
How long till Rory McDonald has a belt around his waist?
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
Well, do you believe he won't fight GSP? Because if you do, that means supposedly he'll move to middleweight or GSP will move to middleweight ... I'm thinking it would probably be Rory to do it. He'd then probably have to win another fight or two for a title shot and who knows how he'd stack up against the larger fighters? If he stays welterweight and the GSP relationship doesn't mess with things, Rory could honestly hold the belt within 12 months -- he's that talented. But because the division is stacked and he and GSP don't want to fight it might take longer.
Stan (Edison, NJ)
Who does Gustafsson get next? I was hoping Bader, but I guess Lil' Nog now? Would like to see him against a wrestler.
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
I would too. I thought Thiago Silva would test him a little and try to get things on the ground but he didn't. That's what we need to see right now from Gus, how much has he improved in the wrestling department? Lil Nog won't get the fans super excited, but it's a good fight to see where he's at.
Richard (Cape Coral, FL)
Just rewatched the replay of the Nam Phan/Leonard Garcia fight from UFC 136.....WOW! So glad that Garcia is fighting here in South Florida next month. Can you see him ever becoming a title contender in the featherweight division? i mean of course if Aldo moves up, because that dude is a beast
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Hard to see Leonard ever fighting for a title. He's a funny guy man, you talk to him, you ask him, Leonard, are you going to fight technical this time? And he laughs and smiles and is like, I'm gonna try! Then he's out throwing haymakers , falling over 20 seconds into the fight. You need guys like that in combat sports though. Leonard might never fight for a title but I'll watch him every time he fights regardless.
Last week (and about two years prior) I said Gilbert was overrated, and you said hes not even if he lost a fight in the UFC, just that he fought a good fighter. But isnt that the point, he's for some reason 8 or 9 on all these p4p lists, so if he lost it would mean that he has been overrated this whole time. For some reason people think he's so good but hector isnt because of who he has fought. Have you seen Gils competition on this win streak he has? Its just as bad as Hectors. I think him and hector get exposed fast.
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
I see what you're saying and I think we agree on some points, but what I really want to get through is the tough spot Gil is in. Everybody is going to be waiting for him to fail when gets to the UFC. He's going to pull a top guy like Maynard or Miller or Pettis (someone in that category) and if he loses everyone is going to be like, See! We told you! That's a really crappy spot to be in. That said, could be overrated as far as his placement on the p4p list? I would agree with you and say yes but p4p lists are basically based on subjective eye tests because they compare fighters who may or may never fight. So ... that's always gonna happen.
If Roy Nelson loses to Herman is he cut? Doesn't seem fair since he has had to train for 3 different fighters.
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
It's a good question. Roy is marketable so he's always going to get a slightly longer leash than most when it comes to his spot on a UFC roster. When he does win fights, he finishes them too. Annnnnd, he's a heavyweight. And the UFC needs heavyweights. I'd say he won't get cut if Herman beats him but man, that would be a bad loss for Roy. He'd be on his last legs at that point.
Do you think #1 contenders get paid too much for title fights? Lack of hunger in those fights from Rashad, Sheilds, Koscheck has to account for something, no?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
No, absolutely not. Because No. 1 contender money still ain't champion money. There's still plenty incentive to win a belt in the UFC.
Big Mike (Chicago)
I really like Diaz at +175 on Sat. Your thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Red Ink comes out today, I broke down Diaz/Miller, Koscheck/Hendricks and Palhares/Belcher from a gambling perspective. I love Diaz at +175.
Do you see Rashad working his way back for a rematch with Bones, or is he going to just pile on the w's until Jones is a heavy?
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
After the way the fight went, I would guess that Jones is far from Rashad's mind in terms of the future. Maybe after a few wins he'll have his confidence back but that was a demoralizing fight for him. My guess is he'll do his own thing, he'll get back in line and focus on one fight at a time and if Jones is still there when he gets to the top he'll be feeling good about himself again and go after it. But Jones will be gone before then if you ask me.
Rusty D (Denver, CO)
So with the rematch of Bendo and Frankie...isn't the worst case scenario a Frankie win? What does the UFC do if this happens? It's lose-lose no matter which way you slice it...
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
Kinda but no ... Frankie has developed a big fan base. If he's your 155 champ that's fine. Move on to the next one. There wouldn't be a Edgar/Hendo III if that's what you're asking. I just think the UFC wanted to see him at 145 because it's where he should be fighting and he'd be a great test for Aldo. But it's not like they dread him being the champ.
Dan Hardy's Mohawk (Dan Hardy's Head, Las Vegas [NV])
Everyone talks about GSP moving up to middleweight instead of fighting Rory. He's always talked in the past about how tough it is for him to keep muscle. You think a move to lightweight would make more sens,e right?
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I've actually heard that from several fans here and on Twitter and it surprises me because there is no way Georges could make 155. He is waaay to big. If he moves at all, it would be to middleweight. But I don't think he wants to do it soon and Anderson (who is the only reason he'd move up) might be close to retiring so, I'm thinking it might never happen and GSP finishes his career at 170.
Kevin (Mile High)
Will Carwin make his return to the octogon at UFC 150?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
I've been working to get in contact with him and his camp to find that out. From the last thing I heard, he is waiting on a doctor's clearance to take a fight. He feels good and he's working out but he needs that clearance. 150 would be a great option for him to return, guess it just depends on his medical situation.
What's next for Brendan Schaub? He has looked exposed in his last 2 fights. Do you think his career is over before it really got started?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
I like Brendan Schaub so I hate to say this but, yes I kind of do feel like that. He's only 29 and he's one of the most athletic heavies in the UFC but at this point, I'm sorry, we can't keep saying, "Oh, that punch just happened to catch him in EXACTLY the right spot and that's why he went out." He can't take a good punch. We know that. And the heavyweight division is not the place to be if you can't take a punch.
After Bader almost had his neck snapped by a Rampage slam...is it time to re-evaluate slamming an opponent head-first into the mat? It seems like just a matter of time before a very serious injury occurs...
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
It's in the rules that you can't intentionally spike an opponent in a mixed martial arts fight. Honestly, I've always had a little trouble interpreting the rule. In the case of Rampage, looked like he was slamming him on his back and Bader's momentum carried him into that unfortunate position. The rule exists, although I can't remember the last time I specifically saw it called live.
Does this new lawsuit that Nick Diaz is throwing out there have any chance of succeding
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
For those who are unaware, Diaz is now suing the Nevada commission basically on the grounds they have neglected his right of due process. The commission hasn't said much about the lawsuit ... but I have a bit of a hard time seeing it go through because they responded to the documents his lawyer submitted each time in a timely manner and I was under the impression Keith Kizer (executive director) was working with Diaz's lawyer to have him appear before the commission. It's worth following but seems like a longshot.
who is your favorite mma fighter of all time?
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
To watch, Anderson Silva. No doubt.
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
Other fighters I get excited to watch that come to mind ... Donald Cerrone, Diego Sanchez, Diaz brothers. I love watching all the fights but those are some guys I definitely don't miss.
Hey Brett first time here. So be honest here what are you more interested in: the Mayweather-Cotto PPV card or the FOX card? People claim that there is a big cross over between the two but there's still a huge disparity between the two sports and Mayweather is a PPV machine and you got Canelo Alvarez on the undercard. Ultimately good or bad for the UFC to be on the same night despite it being free?
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
I think it's good. Timing has worked out in the previous ones, correct? I remember them turning on the Pacquiao fight in the press room after the first Fox card and it seemed like it was almost planned, UFC ended and boxing started. A Mayweather fight is still bigger than the UFC, it just is. I would think though that boxing fans would try out the UFC while they're waiting for the PPV. I think it's good for both. Personally, I'm more interested in the Fox card but I cover MMA everyday. Boxing I help out with on and off throughout the year.
timothy davis (hollywooddavis hollywood)
whathollywood what, if anything, did sonnen/bisping teach us about silva/sonnen 2? I know every matchup is its own animal but looking at bisping/hendo, silva/hendo, silva/sonnen 1 & sonnen/bisping, i can't figure out chael's chances in the silva rematch.
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
Sonnen/Bisping would have maybe taught us something if we didn't have a full library on Sonnen beforehand. If I had watched Sonnen/Bisping with no previous knowledge of what Sonnen is capable of, I'd say, well this guy isn't THAT dominant of a wrestler. But he's done that to Silva/Marquardt/Okami in the past. He's got a track record as a great wrestler. So, if anything, I took from that fight 1. Bisping is better defensive wrestler than I thought. 2. Sonnen had a bit of an off-night.
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
Is Brandon Vera's next fight against Te Huna a must-win match in order to avoid getting cut?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
I would say yes. They already cut him once. You would think he'd come back completely motivated but then he went out and nearly lost to Eliot Marshall. Eliot Marshall. It's not just that Vera hasn't been winning it's that he's looked disinterested in fighting in the process. If he looks that way again in this fight, then why keep him?
Ever think Lombard will challenge for the MW belt? Or is he destined to be a gate keeper?
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
We'll see. Personally, I think Lombard is good but he's in a division that has bulked up over the last year. All of a sudden you've got Munoz, Weidman, Bisping seems to be peaking, etc. His fight against Stann is his toughest in years and unless he knocks him out in dominant fashion, I'm guessing he has to win another one to get a shot. I give him a chance but if I were to bet on it, I'd say he doesn't win a belt.
Everyone says short nottice fights "aren't ideal", but to me it is short nottice for both fighters and is a better gauge as to if fighter A is better than fighter B because you can't reinvent yourself in short order. Thoughts....
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
It kind of depends on the situation. If Fighter A has been training for three months, his opponent gets hurt, and Fighter B (who's been drinking on the weekends and eating Taco Bell) steps in on two weeks notice, it's definitely not ideal. In a situation like Frank Mir vs. JDS, I don't see one having a huge stylistic advantage over the other, other than of course JDS was training for five rounds and Mir was training for three.
With Strikeforce being as bare bones as it is, what can Zuffa do then to keep Rousey and Tate (whom they love) in the fold? Seems like Strikeforce is a mess and yet the women's division is the only thing that interestes people in it?
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
Throw some marketing behind the women and hope another star pops up. The thing I haven't understood is I don't feel like there's been a huge push to promote any of the women behind them. It's kind of like, Rousey and Tate did the work on their own and only then Zuffa got behind them. Now, you've got those two, try to create more. It seems like they'll take it if it's there but they won't put the forth a lot of effort in building it themselves.
Scott (Salt Lake City)
Thanks for tweeting from the Mayweather press conference yesterday. Are you going to be sitting on Press row and going into the ring after the fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I'll be at the fight, looking forward to it. Press don't go into the ring after the fight, but I'll talk to the guys after.
Scott (Salt Lake City)
What will get more ppv buys? Mayweather V Cotto or UFC 148?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Mayweather vs Cotto. They're expecting around 1.5 million. UFC would be happy with 1 mil I think.
What are your predictions for Mayweather/Cotto, and Mosley/Alvarez?
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Mayweather way too fast, too technical. I think he'll take a lopsided decision. Mosley/Alvarez should be a good one. Mosley seems motivated to prove he's not done. I've actually been talking about that fight with some of the boxing trainers in MMA I know and it almost seems they're more interested in that one than Mayweather. I'm taking Canelo in a close one.
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
Will the winner of Pat Barry vs Lavar Johnson face a top-10 heavyweight in his next fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
Yeah, if one of them looks real outstanding in the fight why not? Heavyweight is just so thin right now. Wide open for pretty much anyone to make a run.
Would you like to see Machida vs Jones again at some point? I think Machida legitimately won R1 and frustrated Bones before getting caught in the choke. What say you?
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
I would actually say you're right in that Machida gave him the most trouble. Rashad lasted the whole fight but Jones was always in control. Jones wasn't in control for that first round against Machida. But Machida has to go on a serious run before I'd be interested in seeing it. Let's not forget he lost to Rampage and Shogun pretty much right before that. You guys will laugh but I still say Phil Davis could be an interesting Jon Jones opponent some day, maybe after 2-3 years of development.
Jon (Phoenix, AZ)
Why is Dana White wasting El Nino's talent in Strikeforce in a trilogy fight NOBODY outside of Josh Thompson's circle cares about? Would LOVE to see him square off against Showtime or Bendo!
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
Me too, but it sure looks like contractually Zuffa is obligated to certain things with Showtime. I don't think there's anything that explicitly says, "You can't move Gilbert Melendez" but they aren't moving him or Luke Rockhold. Seems like they can't just strip SF of it's best parts. Sucks for Melendez but it doesn't look like it's changing any time soon.
What's next for Matt Mitrione? Wasn't he suppose to be fighting Dave Herman?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
That's a rumor I had heard floating around the UFC and even one of the fighter's camps but either it was just a rumor and nothing more, or they broke it up because they wanted Herman for Roy. Haven't heard anything concrete on what's next for Matt now.
Brian F. (San Diego)
I love the new TUF format. Any thoughts for next season's TUF coaches? Thx
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Hmm, good question. Hadn't thought about it. Maybe Jon Jones beats Dan late in the year, decides to move to heavyweight and they have him coach against another heavy? That'd be cool right.
Ed (Off from Work)
Going to UFC on Fox 3...is it worth rushing to a bar for Cotto/Mayweather? I'm thinking an emphatic no.
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Depends on what you like Ed. Some people hate Mayweather fights. In fact, I was one of them when I was younger and didn't watch a lot of boxing. Now that I know more about what's going on, I love watching Mayweather fight. You know how impressive it is to go 12 rounds with some of the guys he goes against and basically not get hit? It's incredible. But if you're not into defense, this probably won't be a close fight, so don't rush to a bar. Enjoy the Fox card.
Assuming Lombard beats Stann, does he jump to a title shot? Or would they put him against a Bisping/Munoz/Loser of Chael v Anderson?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
I think it all depends on how he does it. If he one-punch knocks him out, then the UFC can build a card around "Look at this dude who was a champion in another promotion and then came in and knocked out the heavy handed Brian Stann!!! AS faces the toughest test in his career!!" But if it's something like a lackluster decision (which I don't think will happen but you never know) then yeah, see what he has against someone like Bisping.
Could John Dodson be the #1 contender at 125 with a win on saturday?
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Yeah, I don't see why not. He's already running at a high value after TUF and there aren't a lot of 125ers out there.
What happens to the middleweight division after Silva/Sonnen II? Does the winner of Boestch/Bisping or Lombard/Stann get the next shot? Maybe Munoz/Weidman? It seems like a soft division to me.
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
It's not as soft as it used to be. You hear this alot but I do think the reason the division looks soft is because AS has been so dominant. I think it depends on the way things play out AND it depends on how soon AS wants to fight again. Doesn't seem like he wants to be super active lately. So, if you have time before the next fight (this is of course assuming he wins) then you probably have a No. 1 contenders fight between two of the guys you mentioned.
What are the chances Varner wrestles his way past barboza?
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
Not sure. To be honest with you guys, I have not watched Varner fight since he left the WEC. So, I don't know how he's looked. I will say though that the Varner I watched in the WEC will give Barboza a fight. I like the matchup. Barboza is an exciting prospect but I'm not quiiiiite as sold as some others are on him just yet.
Whats the most brutal KO and submission youve seen live?
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
The KO that stands out was Pablo Garza knocking out Fredson Paixao. I think that was UFC ... right after the WEC merger. Submission ... not sure off the top of my head. I couldn't believe it when Mir broke Nog's arm. And I couldn't believe it when Weidman hit the standing guillotine in Canada (I think?) because it just came out of nowhere and he made it look so easy.
When will Jose Aldo make his move to 155? So many more intriguing fights in that class. Imagine him against Bendo, Showtime, Edgar, Miller!
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Within the next couple years. I think he's got a good fight against Koch, although I wish Koch had a little more time and wasn't coming off injury. Then I'd like to see him fight Dustin Poirier at some point. That's about it for me though. He gets by those two and go to 155.
larrysandersjoe (Newark-on-Trent, UK)
Hello Brett. I know fighters are instructed to defend themselves at all times but do you think refs should intervene when one goes for a cheap shot immediately after a glove-touch?
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
No. That's not up to the referee. It's a cheap move and you won't gain any fans for it, but it's legal if that's what you want to do. Rarely, rarely happens.
Who do you favor in the Bermudez/Garza fight?
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
I'm actually picking Garza.
Da Biz (NorCali)
Where does the winner of Barnett/Cormier do next?
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Apparently, stays in SF and fights one more fight. I don't think there's a real solid plan for that. From conversations with Dana, it sounds to me like they'd sign somebody to come in for one fight then they bring Barnett/Cormier to the UFC. It's weird.
Jose (Orlando, FL)
I will be in Vegas this weekend for my fathers wedding, Im still searching for Cotto v. Mayweather tix at a reasonable price LOL ( I Know ) but could you recommend any good bars to watch it? Ill be staying at the Luxor
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
They do circuit showings at the MGM. You buy a ticket and go into a ballroom and watch the fight. I've never done it but would think it will be a good atmosphere. Plenty of other fight fans. Don't think it's that expensive.
Will Miller go all out for submissions in this fight or try to wrestle out a decision? He has Benson is a bunch of dangerous spots but got pounded for his effort.
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
He'll go for subs. That's what Miller does. He's not a lay-and-pray guy. He works for position. Plus, the longer the fight goes I think it will favor Diaz. He's bigger and he's a volume puncher so Miller will be working hard the whole fight. He'll want to get the finish if he can.
Len ((Las Vegas, Nevada))
Brett, do you think that UFC 148 can get 1 million ppv buys? Also, would Anderson Silva get an immediate rematch if Chael beat him. Love the chat!
Brett Okamoto (2:06 PM)
I do think 148 could get 1 million ... it will be right around there. The first one got I think a little over 600k? I don't see it going much higher than that though.
Would you rather spend 1 minute in the ring with tyson in his prime or spend 30 seconds in the octagon with anderson silva today?
Brett Okamoto (2:07 PM)
Tyson. Gloves are bigger ... and there are no gloves on Anderson's knee. He'd thai clinch me and I'd have nowhere to go.
Dan (East Brunswick)
Any thoughts on Cholish v Castillo? Cholish has an interesting back story.
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Castillo was always kind of the Alpha Male member who seemed to struggle in all his fights. He's found a stride lately. Think he'll win the fight.
(Ryan) ((Detroit, Michigan))
If Chael beats Anderson, have them be the coaches of TUF for the trilogy fight that would take place in Brazil. How do you like them apples, Motto?
Brett Okamoto (2:09 PM)
I'd be with you Ryan except I don't want to see Anderson coach TUF. I don't think he'd be great on it and it means we don't get to see him fight for an extended period of time and he's already running out of years left on his career. But I'm with you if Chael beats Anderson, have them fight in Brazil. I like them apples a lot.
Steve (San Obispo)
Does anyone out there realistically think Mir is even going to challenge JDS? Mir and Rothwell would be interesting enough at this point.
Brett Okamoto (2:11 PM)
JDS is the rightful favorite but let me build a case for Mir. He's viewing this as probably his last shot at the title. It means a lot to him, both competitively and financially. JDS is a terrific striker, but he's not a defensive wizard. He got hit by Carwin, Velasquez in that 64-second minute and Nelson. Frank has good power in the right hand and he's savvy enough to set things up. We've never seen JDS on the ground. We hear he's good, but you never know. If Mir pushes him late, his experience could play a factor, he could get the fight to the ground.
Brett Okamoto (2:12 PM)
And let's wrap it there, I've got to head to MGM for Mayweather press conference. Good comments today guys, sorry can't go longer. Join me again next week and we'll go two hours if the questions are there. Enjoy the fights this weekend.